So I'm just sitting on the porch doing my normal bit of nothing, and inside, I hear Marie say "Well, what do you know?" Marie, sometimes she's talking to you, sometimes she's just talking to herself, you can't always tell which, so I yell back "Know what?" and a second later she's out on the porch with me, waving a newspaper.

"Know what?" I say again, in case she's forgot."It wasn't the devil after all," she says.

"What wasn't the devil after all?" I say.

"Procter & Gamble," she says. "Says here they weren't working with the devil." And she shows me this newspaper story about how Procter & Gamble just got $75,000 from some fella and his wife for spreading those rumors about them being in league with Satan - Procter & Gamble, I mean.

Anyway, the story said how they'd been passing out leaflets telling people not to buy Procter & Gamble products, and Procter & Gamble went and sued, and now they not only had to pay up but put out a statement, too. Marie read that part out loud.

"After our own investigation," it said, "we have concluded that the Satanism rumors are lies, and we are issuing this statement to help Procter & Gamble maintain its fine reputation."

I figure the only investigating those folks ever did was noticing that their keisters were in a sling bigger than an extra-large Pampers, and that what was about to happen to them, even Spic & Span couldn't clean up. They're both of them - Pampers and Spic & Span, I mean - Procter & Gamble products, same as half of everything else you've got in your house probably.

How do I know? Marie, she worries about things. When the devil rumors started back whenever, she didn't believe them exactly, but she wasn't ruling them out either. First thing, we had to go all up and down the house and notice what was from Procter & Gamble. All sorts of things, it turns out - to wash up or dry up or clean up with, or even eat.

She didn't throw any of them away, mind you - not the packages with the man in the moon and the 13 stars on them (nothing but a design, I kept telling her), and not the packages afterward without. But she kept track.

If Tide got her stains out, if Downy made her sweaters soft, if Crest made her teeth shine, she'd start in again.

Eventually, she got to where it didn't bother her, except once in a while. "Why would anybody start a rumor like that if it wasn't true?" she'd ask. And then right here in this newspaper story, there's one reason plain as day: The fella and his wife are Amway distributors!

"Don't you see?" I say to Marie. "They were selling stuff that competed with Procter & Gamble stuff. The more they could spread that devil hooey around, the more money they figured they'd make."

This great big smile breaks out across her face. "So it wasn't the devil then," she says. "It was greed, plain and simple."

And that's the best news she's heard in a while. Marie, she can handle greed - it's the weird stuff that gets to her. She'll be fine.

Me, I've still got my eye on Mr. Clean.